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Green Left Weekly: Iraq Globalisation At Gun Point

Iraq: Globalisation At Gun Point

By Doug Lorimer
From The Green Left Weekly

On August 31, Peter McPherson, a former Bank of America executive, close friend of US Vice-President Dick Cheney and, today, the top US economic “adviser” in Iraq, announced that the US-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had selected JP Morgan Chase to head a consortium of Western banks to operate the new Trade Bank of Iraq.

“Operating the Trade Bank of Iraq will give banks access to the financial system of Iraq, the world's second-largest holder of oil reserves, where foreign bank companies haven't operated since a policy of nationalisation in the 1950s and 1960s”, the Bloomberg financial news agency reported.

JP Morgan Chase, the second-largest US bank holding company, is the product of a formal merger in 2000 of the Morgan and Rockefeller family business empires, with controlling interests in the world's largest corporations — ExxonMobil, General Electric and, in collaboration with the DuPont family, General Motors.

That same day, the London Observer reported that the US legal firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey had been hired to advise the CPA on privatising government-held industries in Iraq, the largest and most potentially lucrative of which is the oil industry. According to the Observer, “earlier this year a Sanders partner, Ronald James, was made personnel chief of the new Department of Homeland Security. James used to work for Donald Rumsfeld, now defence secretary, when Rumsfeld was a member of Congress, and during the Nixon administration he shared a White House office with Dick Cheney”.

In a speech in October 1999, Henry Kissinger, a long-time crony of the Rockefeller family and secretary of state under US presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, candidly remarked that “what is called `globalisation' is really another name for the dominant role of the United States” through the export of the model of corporate-dominated “free market” capitalism, which, as Kissinger noted in his speech, became established in the “United States at the turn of the 20th century”.

Fist for corporate interests

Five months earlier, New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman explained to his readers that the “globalisation” of US corporate-dominated markets required the “hidden fist” of the US military: “For globalisation to work, America can't be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonald-Douglas, the designer of the F-15, and the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technology is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

The fact that the US military serves as the fist to keep the “world safe” for the profit-making interests of US corporations is only hidden from the general public because the corporate-owned media and the pro-capitalist politicians rarely admit the connection.

US Major-General Smedley Butler recognised the connection. In his 1933 book War is a Racket, Butler wrote: “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps... And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high-class muscleman for big business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism...

“I helped make Mexico ... safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.”

While not so honestly stated, US President George Bush's administration has also acknowledged the connection. While beating the drums for the US military to invade and occupy Iraq, in September 2002 the Bush administration produced a 33-page National Security Strategy (NSS) document which declared: “Free markets and free trade are key priorities of our national security strategy.”

Using the spectre of terrorism and of the need for a global war against it, the document justifies the use of US military force to impose “free markets” and “free trade” upon countries that deny or restrict US corporations' access to exploit their human and natural resources — so-called “rogue states”.

As Smedley Butler's remarks prove, imperialist America has always used its military muscle to force open countries within its Central American and Caribbean “backyard” to be exploited by US corporations. The new departure in the NSS was that — with post-capitalist Soviet Union, the long-standing obstacle to US global domination, having collapsed — the US rulers felt confident of being able to realise this goal throughout the world.

“We will actively work to bring the hope of democracy, development, free markets and free trade to every corner of the world”, the NSS declared.

`War on terror'

The “war on terror” is only a political cover to secure the support of US working people for the goal of imposing US corporate-dominated “free market” globalisation at gun point. This goal is repeatedly stated throughout the NSS document.

Indeed, while the document mentions “terrorism”, “terror”, “enemy” and “defence” 76 times, it mentions “free trade”, “free markets”, “free enterprise”, “private property”, “economic openness”, “economic freedom”, “economic liberty” and US “interests” just as many times. And while it mentions progressive income tax as an evil to be excoriated, the NSS document did not contain one mention of al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden!

Stripped of its neoliberal economic verbiage about “economic freedom” and “economic liberty”, the Bush strategic doctrine means using the US military to make the world, in Butler's words, “a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in”, a place “safe for American oil interests” and for “big business, for Wall Street and for the bankers”.

Long before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center, the US rulers had considered plans to use the US military to enable US oil corporations to seize control of Iraq's oil resources.

Kissinger plan

“It's the Kissinger plan”, James Akins, the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1970s, told Mother Jones magazine contributing writer Robert Dreyfuss earlier this year.

In 1975, an article headlined “Seizing Arab Oil” appeared in Harper's Magazine, which, as Akins told Dreyfus, outlined how the US “could solve our economic and political problems over the Arab oil fields [and] bringing in Texans and Oklahomans to operate them”.

“I said on television”, Akins told Dreyfuss, “that anyone who would propose that is either a madman, a criminal or an agent of the Soviet Union”. A short time later, Akins learned that the “madman” was his own boss, Kissinger, who was at that time secretary of state in the Ford administration. Akins was fired later that year.

“I thought [the `Kissinger plan'] had been killed, but it's back”, Akins told Dreyfuss.

It's not surprising that Kissinger's proposal has been revived and acted upon by the Bush administration. After all, two of Kissinger's closest associates in the Ford administration — Cheney, who was Ford's chief of staff, and Rumsfeld, Ford's defence secretary — are now leading Bush administration figures, as vice-president and defence secretary respectively. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld have been campaigning for a US push to take over the Persian Gulf oilfields for the last 10 years.

In 1997, Cheney and Rumsfeld helped initiate the Project for a New American Century lobby group, and a year later another lobby group, the US Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. In 1998, they wrote to President Bill Clinton urging him to step up US efforts to topple Saddam Hussein's regime because it was a “hazard” to “a significant portion of the world's supply of oil”.

September 12

On the morning after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Rumsfeld urged Bush to authorise an immediate US attack on Iraq. However, Secretary of State Colin Powell succeeded in persuading the Bush that “public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible”.

Instead, it was agreed to first authorise a war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, plans for which had already been drawn up by the Clinton administration.

According to the January 3 Washington Post: “On September 17, 2001, six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush signed a 2½-page document marked `Top Secret' that outlined the plan for going to war in Afghanistan as part of a global campaign against terrorism. Almost as a footnote, the document also directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq, senior administration officials said.”

While the Bush administration has publicly denied that its invasion of Iraq has anything to do with oil, the orders given to the invading US troops clearly contradicted these denials.

From the very beginning of the invasion on March 19, US troops were ordered to seize control of Iraq's oilfields. When they entered Baghdad on April 9, the US occupiers allowed the looting and burning of nearly all Iraqi public buildings — except the Iraqi oil ministry building, which they immediately ringed with troops and armoured personnel carriers.

In a May 27 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Rumsfeld declared that the Bush administration is committed to creating a post-Saddam regime in Iraq that is headed by personnel who “favour market systems” and “encourage moves to privatise state-owned enterprises”.

According to an article in the June 3 US weekly Nation, Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials are being briefed on ideas for the rapid privatisation of Iraq's state-run industries by Michael Bleyzer, a former Exxon executive and CEO of the SigmaBleyzer investment banking company.

“What I'd like to see over the next 10 years is to really rebuild Iraq, and that means a market economy”, said Bleyzer, adding that Iraq would have a “much better business environment if BP or ExxonMobil or Shell could invest. We want to set up a business environment where global companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald's could come in and create a diversified economy not dependent on oil.”


- From Green Left Weekly, September 10, 2003.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.

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